Columbus DUI Detection Phase One: Drunk Driving

Over the next few days I will try to give you some useful information regarding DUI testing procedure in Columbus; well in the State of Ohio actually. I hope this information isn't terribly boring and will be useful whether you are currently facing a DUI charge, or you're the type of person that just likes to be informed.

Police are looking for specific clues to give them probable cause to arrest a person for OVI or DUI. Unfortunately, most people being detained and investigated for DUI have no idea what the officer is looking for. Columbus Police are trained to detect DUI using the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's testing procedures (NHTSA manual). 

Big shocker: the first clues are those observed while you're driving. . . usually. If you're so intoxicated that you don't realize you're driving the wrong way down a one way street or you've been in an accident, well, that's going to be a problem. Other clues are much harder to detect. Here is a list of possible DUI indicators taken directly from the NHTSA manual:
  • Weaving/Weaving Across Lane Lines - like a slow zigzag through a lane or lanes
  • Straddling a Lane Line
  • Swerving - thing weaving with an abrupt jerk of the wheel
  • Turning with Wide Radius - I think it sounds ridiculous, but NHTSA says its a clue.
  • Drifting - the easiest way to think about drifting is to think of a person slowly driving diagonally but still in a straight line - not weaving
  • Almost Striking an Object or Vehicle
  • Stopping Problems (too far, too short, too jerky)
  • Accelerating or Decelerating Rapidly
  • Varying Speed
  • Slow Speed (10 mph + Under the Speed Limit)
  • Wrong Way On One-Way Street - I think we covered that. It's time to stop driving. 
  • Slow Response to Traffic Signals - sitting at a green light for 20 seconds with an officer behind you is not a good thing
  • Slow or Failure to Respond to Officer's Signals - the police DO NOT like this, DUI or not
  • Stopping in Lane for No Apparent Reason - I have handled hundreds of DUI cases and have still never seen this
  • Driving Without Headlights at Night 
  • Failure to Signal or Signal Inconsistent with Action - don't turn on your left turn signal then turn right
  • Following Too Closely 
  • Improper or Unsafe Lane Change
  • Illegal or Improper Turn - (U-turn, too fast, jerky, sharp)
  • Driving on Other Than Designated Roadway - This is very bad. Please get out of the vehicle as soon as possible.

Obviously there are other reasons that you can be pulled over that may lead to a DUI arrest, but these are the "vehicle in operation" clues that Columbus police are trained to look for. Next we'll talk about what happens once you've been pulled over.  

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration DWI Detection Guide 2010.


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